Eastland Port’s Wharf 7 rebuild ready to get underway

After years in the planning, work will soon begin on one of the most significant parts of Eastland Port’s ‘Twin Berth’ project.

Located in Gisborne, Tairāwhiti, the rebuild of Wharf 7 was granted resource consent in December 2020. It’s due to start late March and will take around 18 months to complete. The cost is an estimated $60 million.

“This is a major milestone for the port and the region,” says Eastland Group chief operating officer regional infrastructure, Andrew Gaddum.

“The original wharf was built in the 1960s and needs replacing. By September 2023, we will have demolished and rebuilt Wharf 7 to create a vital and resilient lifeline asset that will support Tairāwhiti’s growing exports.

“It will be strong enough to accommodate the three new mobile harbour cranes that arrived recently, and will be capable of withstanding a one-in-2500-year earthquake event, providing significant regional resilience in the event of a natural disaster.”

Following a competitive tender process, infrastructure construction specialist McConnell Dowell was awarded the contract for Wharf 7. The company has more than six decades’ experience on marine and other projects across New Zealand, Australasia and Asia, and recently completed an upgrade of the Ports of Auckland as part of the Wynyard Edge Alliance.

A range of sub-contractors from Tairāwhiti will be used throughout the rebuild.

Marty Bayley, Eastland Port’s infrastructure manager, is overseeing the project and says the wharf design had been significantly refined.

“We’ve taken the time to work closely with McConnell Dowell to refine and modify our original concepts, and come up with some innovative solutions.

“The enhanced deck-on-pile design will further increase seismic resilience, improve operational longevity, reduce steel use by 70% and minimise the environmental impact of the structure.

“Following a significant value engineering process collaborating with McConnell Dowell’s engineering team, the refined wharf design only needs 50% of the piles compared to the initial design.

“No hardfill is required anymore. This leaves the seabed below as it is today, without interrupting the rua koura (crayfish puerulus) and local ecology. It also results in 3,300 fewer truck movements through the city.

“The piles will now also be drilled prior to driving, so considerably less noise will be generated from the project.”

McConnell Dowell will begin preparing the site and ensure all Covid health and safety protocols will be followed.

“This is a significant logistical exercise for us,” adds Bayley.

“We’ll be undertaking the work while continuing to keep the port operational. Throughout the build process we are being mindful of our neighbours, everyone who uses the harbour, the wider community and our customers. We’ll be keeping everyone informed via regular meetings and discussions with key stakeholders, newsletters, updates in the media and online.

“We’ve formalised consultative partnerships with the hapū of Tūranganui-a-Kiwa, to ensure cultural values and relationships are considered and recognised. Each of the hapū were provided all of the project management plans for review and feedback, prior to their approval and construction.”

The Wharf 7 rebuild, along with upgrading the slipway, is Stage 1 of the Twin Berth project.

The port team continues to develop plans for Stage 2, which would allow two handymax vessels (one 200m and one 185m long) to be able to berth on Wharves 7 and 8 at once. Resource consent applications for Stage 2 will be submitted in the next few months.